Skip to main content

Full text of "Authority and the individual"

See other formats


AUTHORITY   AND   THE   INDIVIDUAL
all acquired unity as a result of military victory by a
ruler of some part of what became a single nation.
In antiquity all large States, except Egypt, suffered
from a lack of stability of which the causes were
largely technical. When nothing could move faster
than a horse it was difficult for the central govern-
ment to keep a firm hold upon outlying satraps or
pro-consuls, who were apt to rebel, sometimes suc-
ceeding in conquering the whole Empire and at other
times making themselves independent sovereigns of
a part of it. Alexander, Atilla, and Jenghiz Khan had
vast empires which broke up at their death, and in
which unity had depended entirely upon the prestige
of a great conqueror. These various empires had no
psychological unity, but only the unity of force.
Rome did better, because Graeco-Roman civilization
was something which educated individuals valued and
which was sharply contrasted with the barbarism of
tribes beyond the frontier. Until the invention of
modern techniques it was scarcely possible to hold
a large empire together unless the upper sections of
society throughout its length and breadth had some
common sentiment by which they were united. And
the ways of generating such a common sentiment
were much less understood than they are now. The
psychological basis of social cohesion, therefore, was
still important, although needed only among a
governing minority. In ancient communities the chief
advantage of great size, namely the possibility of
large armies, was balanced by the disadvantage that
3